Beltré, Jenkins form HOF-worthy battery for WS first pitch

October 29th, 2023

Baseball Hall of Famer and longtime Major Leaguer both made their mark with the Rangers. Jenkins collected 93 of his 284 victories in two stints with Texas, while Beltré had eight unforgettable seasons that made him a legend with the Rangers and a likely future Hall of Famer.   

Those productive years in Texas helped Beltré and Jenkins link up for the first-pitch ceremony before Saturday night's Game 2 of the 2023 World Series at Globe Life Field. Jenkins was behind the plate when Beltré threw out the first pitch.

Jenkins never played in the Fall Classic, but the pregame ceremony made him feel like a veteran of October baseball. 

“What’s nice about it is, the Rangers haven’t been in a World Series since 2011,” Jenkins said. “I was at Game 6 against the Cardinals that year. The Rangers needed one more out to win the series. The honor is to get on the field during a World Series, which is something I never had the opportunity to do before.”

A native of the Dominican Republic, Beltré was the starting third baseman on the 2011 team that fell short to St. Louis in seven games. He is happy to be back in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but he acknowledged that he was nervous throwing the first pitch.  

“It's great to be back here in a situation where hopefully [the Rangers]  are going to bring … [their] fans a well-deserved first World Series [championship],” Beltré said. “Hopefully these guys get it done.”

Beltre retired after the 2018 season and is eligible to be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame this January. His numbers are worthy of enshrinement -- the smooth third baseman won five Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers while hitting .286 with 3,166 hits, 477 home runs and 1,707 RBIs. 

“I'm not going to lie,” Beltre said. “The fact that, yes, next January, I'm eligible to be on the ballot. But I don't like to think about it. I do, sometimes, because of the questions you guys ask me and family and because it's normal.

“But it's something that I cannot control. So I don't know how I'm going to feel. Pretty much I'm going to be happy, but I don't like to get ahead of things that I can't control. So if it happens, when it happens, I'll see how I'll react and see how I'm going to enjoy it.”

Jenkins joined the Rangers 50 years ago this month after the Cubs traded him to Texas for infielders Bill Madlock and Vic Harris. Rumors had surfaced that Jenkins was damaged goods after having a mediocre season with the Cubs in 1973. But Jenkins had a talk with then-manager Billy Martin and promised him that he would pitch every fourth day and win his share of games. 

Not only did Jenkins win a career-high 25 games in 1974, but he helped the Rangers have their first winning season, though they lost the American League West title to the Athletics by five games.  

“We had a pretty good ballclub,” Jenkins said. “The Rangers made a lot of trades. We had Cesar Tovar, Alex Johnson and Jim Fregosi. There were a lot of guys that they brought in. But they had young guys like Toby Harrah, Jeff Burroughs … There were so many guys. I roomed with Jim Bibby. When everybody goes to Spring Training, that’s the time you mold the team together. Billy Martin was that kind of manager. He brought the team together, and we really played well.”

Both Jenkins and Beltré believe that the Rangers are going to win the World Series. They are both impressed with the way Adolis García is carrying the team offensively. García compiled a Major League-record 22 RBIs in the postseason prior to Saturday’s action.

“The Rangers should have the advantage, especially the guys that are power hitters, because they can hit the ball out of that ballpark, especially Adolis García,” Jenkins said. “Man, there is no stadium that can stop him from hitting home runs. He is incredible.”

Said Beltré, “It's amazing to be able to step up and continue to do what he's doing. I mean, in this situation, in the playoffs, in the World Series, being clutch the way he has been -- 21, 22 RBIs in the postseason is, obviously it's a record now. And the way he's doing it is just amazing.”